NOTE FROM ROBERT KEENAN, SECRETARY TREASURER
The minimum dues of the Union consist of two parts – the amount paid to cover the basic operations of the union and the amount paid to provide the life insurance program that has been in place for several years.
In both 2020 and 2021, the dues paid to the Union amounted to $286 per year. In 2019 it was $284.
For life insurance, in both 2020 and 2021, the price per member was $109. Thus in both 2020 and 2021, minimum total dues remained the same – $395.
The Union’s dues are made to increase with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). CPI is applied to the amount paid as Union dues, in this case $286.
Applying CPI from 2021 to $286 means that minimum union dues for 2022 will be $298. We are not yet certain what the increased cost of life insurance will be, though we have been told to expect a small increase. Until we know the price of life insurance, we do not know the final minimum dues for 2022.
We would note that the minimum dues of FFAW are far and away the lowest of any large union in this province. Dues in many other Unions are routinely over $1000 per year.
Increase in the Weekly Rate
The weekly rate is being increased from $25.00 per week to $35.00. It has been at $25 for almost a decade when the value of the fishery was much lower.
The rate is being increased so that more dues can be collected during the fishing season, which will limit the arrears that are deducted at the beginning of the following season.
For example, at $25 per week and a $400 minimum dues rate, a harvester will have to fish 16 weeks this year to pay dues during the season. And if that harvester only fished 8 weeks, he or she would owe $200 in arrears at the beginning of the next year.
At $35 per week, a harvester will have minimum dues paid in 11.4 weeks. And if that same harvester only fishes 8 weeks, he or she will owe $120 in arrears the following year.
Harvesters will not be paying more (increase in the minimum notwithstanding), it will be collected quicker to minimize arrears.
Two-cents on Lobster
Over the course of February and March, I met with several hundred harvesters whose primary fishery was lobster. At each meeting I discussed a 2-cent assessment on lobster for 2022. Yes, there were some who were opposed to it, but the general feedback was it is something that needs to be done so long as the funds are used towards their intended purposes.
At meetings I advised members that the funds would be used to cover the cost of a scientist to work primarily on lobster, and to pay for better market information on lobster so that we can better assess how or if the current formula needs to be modified. I committed to being transparent on the funds and to hold it in a separate account. I stand by those commitments. I will also not be coming back next year or the year after that seeking an increase.
In the end, if this assessment is not achieving its value, it will be discontinued.
To put the assessment into perspective, based on 2021 landings, the assessment would provide an additional $201,000 to the union based on a landed value of $82 million. This is 0.2% of total landed value. We are not applying this assessment to pad the Union’s finances, we are doing it to provide a service we could not otherwise afford. As is clear from above, our dues rate provides little flexibility.